Phx. Transit Elections
A Brief History Of Transportation Elections
in the Valley of the Sun (1960-2000)
[Source : THE INFORMATION GROUP, PHOENIX. Â© 2000. Posted with permission.]
1960-1984 : REGIONAL FREEWAY TAX PROPOSALS & DEBATE:
For a twenty-five year period beginning in 1960, there were many attempts to create/develop a regional freeway system around the Valley. During the 1960â€™s there was great opposition to any freeway construction by residents, politicians and the media due to the presumption that “Phoenix would become like Los Angeles if freeways were built”. In 1973 voters were asked to approve a plan to build the Papago Freeway/Red Mountain(Loop 202) from Phoenix to Mesa, but the measure was overwhelmingly rejected by the citizens. By 1985, the peopleâ€™s patience had worn thin and sadly the “Los Angeles-style” traffic enveloped metro-Phoenix despite the lack of freeways. The voters would be asked again to finally approve a system after 25 years of debate and reluctance.
1985 : REGIONAL FREEWAY / RPTA TAX PROPOSITION 300
Tax funding for development of regional Maricopa County freeway system over 20 years (tentative completion by 2005). Initiative also created the Regional Public Transit Authority, whose small percentage of the freeway tax is to be used to plan, design and find a funding source for a regional transit system within 5 years.
Initiative was approved by voters.
1989 : VAL-TRANS PROPOSITION:
By 1985 requirements, the RPTA was created to design a transit plan. In 1989 the agency proposed an initiative to secure a one-cent(per-dollar) sales tax funding source over 30 years for the following : a regional Maricopa County-wide bus system (7 day-a-week service on every major street in county), regional-express rapidbus transit system, multiple commuter trains which use freight railroad tracks and a 103-mile, elevated, double track, 60mph rapid-train system. *Note : A very controversial election, many voters felt that the plan was too large, too long, too expensive, not detailed enough and many did not like the idea of transit vehicles travelling overhead above neighborhoods, streets and backyards. Many were still vocally angry that despite the Countyâ€™s 1985 freeway tax four years earlier, only 10-15 miles of freeway had been built so far.
Initiative was soundly defeated by voters by 3-1 margin.
1994 : MARICOPA COUNTY FREEWAY/TRANSIT PROP. 400:
Due to financial miscalculations by ADOT, the State, the County and an economic recession in the late 80â€™s/early 90â€™s, the funding levels expected from the 1985 freeway initiative never developed. By 1994, the regional highway system was under-funded, over-budget, 10 years behind schedule and only 1/5 complete. Maricopa County asked voters to implement an emergency-funding source (1/2 cent sales tax increase) to keep the freeway system construction on schedule. In addition, a dedicated Â¼-cent sales tax funding source would have been implemented for a countywide regional bus system. A small portion would be reserved for rail-transit studies.
Both initiatives were defeated by voters by 2-1 margin.
(*Note : Many voters were still vocally opposed and angered for being asked vote for another freeway tax in less than nine years. Because of this vote, all cities within Maricopa County were now forced to build their transit systems individuallyâ€¦ city by city, one by one.)
1996 : TEMPE TRANSIT IMPROVEMENT PROP. 400:
Tempe voters were asked to approve a permanent Â½ cent sales tax increase dedicated to transit. It would provide 7-day a week, 20 hour-a-day bus service on all major Tempe streets. Additional funded improvements are bus-pullouts, bus shelters, neighborhood circulators, expanded rapid-Express bus service and some funding to study rail-transit options in Tempe. Voters would have to be asked again to approve any light-rail expansion in Tempe.
Initiative was approved by voters.
1997 : PHOENIX TRANSIT IMPROVEMENT PROP. 1 :
After the success of the Tempe transit election in 1996, the City of Phoenix and the citizens Committee of 600 created a plan where voters were asked to approve a Â½ cent sales tax increase over 20 years to provide 7-day a week, 20 hour-a-day bus service on all major Phoenix streets. Additional funded improvements were bus-pullouts, bus shelters, left-hand turn lanes & arrows, bike paths, neighborhood shuttles, expanded Express bus service and additional funding to study rail-transit options in Phoenix.
Initiative was defeated by voters.
(*Note : Of the 115,000 votes cast, the proposition failed by approximately 122 votes (.002%). Rumored to be one of the closest municipal election-results in U.S. history.)
See also: Transit Election 1997
1997 : SCOTTSDALE TRANSIT IMPROVEMENT PROPOSITION:
After the success of the Tempe transit election in 1996, the City of Scottsdale created a similar plan where voters were asked to approve a Â½ cent sales tax increase to provide 7-day a week, 20 hour-a-day bus service on all major Scottsdale streets. Additional funded improvements were bus-pullouts, bus shelters, left-hand turn lanes & arrows, bike paths, neighborhood shuttles, expanded Express bus service and additional funding to study rail-transit options in Scottsdale.
Initiative was defeated by voters by a 2-1 margin.
(*Note : due to a subsequent reworking of the Cityâ€™s transportation budget in 1999, Scottsdale was able to begin purchasing new buses for additional city routes. Included in this is the new circulator shuttle system at the Scottsdale Airpark, beginning in August 2000.).
1998 : MESA QUALITY OF LIFE TAX PROPOSITION:
The City of Mesa crafted an initiative to increase the sales tax in order to raise additional revenue for quality of life issues such as parks, libraries, cultural centers, fire depts, police depts and transit improvements. A small portion of the tax would be used for bus pull-outs, bus shelters, Dial-A-Ride and other transit projects.
Initiative was approved by voters.
(*Note : Due to additional Federal and State transit funding given to Mesa in early 2000, the City of Mesa announced that it now had the budget to double its bus fleet to 47, as well as acquiring 54 new and replacement Dial-A-Ride vans. New routes on Brown Rd, Stapley Dr., East Main St and other major streets are expected by 2001.)
1999 : CHANDLER TRANSIT IMPROVEMENT PROPOSITION:
The City of Chandler crafted an initiative to raise the city sales tax by 3/8â€™s cent over 10 years for transit improvements. The tax would raise $10 million over ten years to provide 7-day a week, 20 hours-a-day bus service to every major street in Chandler. Additional funded items included bus pull-outs, bus shelters, left-turn arrows and red-light-running cameras at intersections.
Initiative was defeated by voters by 2-1 margin.
(*Note: only 8% of eligible Chandler voters cast their ballots.)
(*Note #2: the City of Chandler went ahead with its plans in early 2000 install the previously rejected â€˜red-lightâ€™ cameras. In addition, the City is planning on adding some new bus and Dial-A-Ride service in 2000-2001, by using a reworked transportation budget. Intel Corporation has even offered to help fund one bus line to South Chandler in order to ensure that employees can get to work.)
1999 : ARIZONA STATE LEGISLATURE – SPECIAL SESSION :
“2007 ACCELERATION PLAN” FREEWAY FUNDING :
In 1999, the State Legislature unanimously passed an â€˜accelerationâ€™ funding package of $1.6 billion dollars to speed-up the construction of Maricopa Countyâ€™s unfinished 144 miles of freeway over 8 years. The funding measure would ensure that the original planned freeway network of 1985 would be completed by 2007. Only 2 years late, but over one billion dollars over budget. In addition, the legislature approved a measure that eliminates the funding for the RPTA agency after 2005 and also prohibits Maricopa County from ever asking its voters again for more freeway or transit money. (*Note: some voters have argued that the Arizona Legislatureâ€™s actions went against the voters wishes of 1994, when voters rejected the highway funding extension. However, most Valley citizens approve of the idea of finally completing the freeway network. Lastly, only legislative action can reverse the â€˜lawâ€™ that disables the Countyâ€™s ability to ask for more tax dollars for highways or transit.Without additional freeway funding beyond 2007, the roads will fall into disrepair, which may force the state to implement toll-roads.)
2000 : PHOENIX TRANSIT 2000 -â€˜PROPOSITION 2000â€™ :
The citizens â€˜Committee of 2000â€™ and the City of Phoenix crafted â€˜Proposition 2000.â€™ This initiative asked voters to approve a 4/10â€™s cent sales tax increase to fund the following over 20 years. New 7-day-a-week bus service/improved bus frequency for every major street in Phoenix, new citywide express-rapid transit bus service, new neighborhood/community shuttles, bus-pullouts, bus shelters and construction of 24 miles of Light-rail transit over a 16 year schedule. The first light rail lines from Christown Mall to Sky Harbor Airport area will be open by 2005. (Proposition 2000 was presented to Phoenix voters during the March 14th special election.)
The initiative passed by 2-1. (65% Yes to 35% No.) The Federal Transit Authority reported that the election results were the third highest approval ever recorded for a U.S. Transit-initiative proposal.
SUMMER 2000 : UPDATE : VALLEY OF THE SUN
Tempe City Council votes to build Light Rail by 2006.
Since the overwhelming success of Proposition 2000, Mesa Scottsdale, Chandler and Glendale governments are planning their own light-rail proposals for voters by 2001-2002.